Impessions of seminar participants.
This is not the first time I’ve attended Seki sensei’s seminar, so I will not reiterate what I’ve written before: the precision, the power, the conciseness, the gentle attitude: I’ll try to express things that struck me in particular during this year’s seminar.
First and foremost, I am deeply grateful for the fact that Seki sensei has started to add verbal explanations when demonstrating the technique. During earlier seminars many of us have noticed that in fact sensei’s movements, gestures are so vivid and precise that without saying a single word he can clearly convey his meaning, demonstrate the right and the wrong way to perform the particular movement. But this time, hearing the verbal explanations, I found that it is a lot easier for me to remember what’s been demonstrated and recall it when trying to perform the technique myself. Unspoken explanations do create an extremely vivid image of what is to be done, while verbal comments form a sort of a checklist – to remember all the points to be checked and controlled during the practice. The verbal explanations are extremely concise, just to the point, so that they actually remind of a mnemonic rule, a key word for each element. Maybe this is not such a big change for more advanced students, but I myself perceive the world largely through words, and for me personally, this particular combination of physical demonstration and brief comments has fused into a perfect way of seeing, summing up and remembering what’s being explained at the seminar. Whether I can actually implement that or not is certainly a separate issue, to be tested during the year till the next seminar, but at this moment I have the impression that during these five days I’ve learned (that is to say, understood in principle and memorized for further study) more than I’ve ever managed to learn in such a short time:
I don’t know whether my second impression is connected with the first one, but this time I’ve been really impressed, impressed anew by the power, precision and concentration of sensei’s movements. Maybe earlier my own level was not sufficient to see all the concentration, but it seemed to me that sensei’s technique has grown even more powerful than before, the brief impulse just in the right direction, just at the right moment, concise and free. This word – concise – is probably the best to express my general impression of Seki sensei’s style, and this time I felt it again as vividly as if it were the very first time. And again, I feel deep gratitude for the fact that I am allowed to see so much and to study so much, and only regret that I’m such a slow learner. I hope Seki sensei and all my teachers forgive me for this.
Schukina Elena, 2nd Dan
Koinobori Dojo, November 10th,2005
I was impressed by the precision and the lightness of the master’s movements, by his gentleness and subtlety.
Stroeva Elena, 1st Dan
Ooshinkan Dojo, November 10th, 2005
I imagined the seminar like a big celebration for which you prepare for a long time and await with great anticipation. For this reason on the first day I raced to the hall on Aviamotornaya in a holiday frame of mind and, because I was overflowing with emotions, don’t remember anything about the day except my first meeting with Sensei.
Having see Seki Sensei prior to that only in photos and video clips powerfully executing various techniques, I imagined him to be a rather stern and fearsome person. Now I recall my initial amazement and impression of Seki Sensei as a totally different sort of person – kind, and someone who can relate to anyone.
This feeling was confirmed during the trainings, as Sensei explained each technique clearly, taking apart every detail you usually don’t pay attention to, in a way that makes the technique understandable not only to black belts, but also to clueless beginners like me. What made watching Seki Sensei’s explanations even more interesting was then trying to put into practice what was just seen and heard.
But the seminar, like real holidays, flew by too quickly, and left me with a lot of positive emotions and a bit of regret that it, as the song goes, only happens once a year.
Alina Lee, 5th Kyu
Koinobori Dojo, November 15th, 2005
Where do I begin? How many hours did we spend in various coffee houses discussing the design of the website and pouring over various details in preparation for the seminar? And here I am again, sitting in a Shokoladnitza, trying to put down on paper my feelings on the results of our labor.
Seki Sensei used the word “simple” to describe his focus. He has spent these past four days reminding even higher degree black belts to keep their hands in front of their center, to stand up straight, and not to stick their elbows out. This is what I’ve had to keep in mind while watching him demonstrate techniques – despite the speed and the power, his focus is always on the basics. His technique is clean and exact and amazing to watch.
Even more amazing is getting a chance to work with him. I was lucky enough to take ukemi from him once and I really appreciate his attitude towards working with beginners. He said it himself – words aren’t enough. As a student of a discipline like this, you have to feel the technique being done correctly on you in order to remember it. The best teachers are the ones who remember what it’s like to be a student. To my mind, Seki sensei is in that group. Not only is his aikido amazing, he is a phenomenal teacher. His technique is fast and powerful but his manner is calm. He is a kind and thoughtful individual and I am thrilled to have had the chance to work with him. I hope I’ll have the chance again soon!
Cabrera Michelle (USA), 4th Kyu
I am very grateful for a chance to participate in such a wonderful event! I enjoyed the seminar very much. It really left the feeling of having taken part in a truly important occurrence. Even on working days I left home for the morning practice gladly, with eagerness and without any thoughts of “I could still be sleeping.” It just occurred naturally that I woke up early and ran to class, thinking only “I’ve got to make it to the warm-up:”
I’ve always had a great respect for Seki sensei for his manner, his perfectly honed technique, his warm attitude to practitioners. Frankly speaking, I had suspected that he would rarely approach participants from dojos other than “Koinobori”, but I was wrong: the sensei did approach me and did throw me. That made me respect him even more, all I have to do is to remember the feeling I had, not to lose it. I recall vividly his precise, perfectly calculated impulses. It was like an arrow flying out of nowhere, and if I was even a little tense, that was all, I couldn’t catch up with it. That’s a general impression, I probably can’t put it more specifically. Apparently, I haven’t digested it all yet, I need more time to think and realize what it was that we were doing at practice and what the sensei wanted from us.
A few words upon the organization of the seminar. I liked it very much that this year it was possible to apply by e-mail at any convenient time (you didn’t have to worry about not being included into your dojo’s joint application), and also to receive all the current information by e-mail (no need to worry about missing the deadline for payment etc). That was very convenient. I also liked the dojos – enough space, enough air, good changing rooms with showers. I believe that a 1,5-hour practice is too difficult, so the 1 hour 15 minutes classes we had this time were just perfect to have some energy left to crawl to the changing room afterwards. The schedule was very convenient – the seminar began on Friday (you tend to have more energy before the weekend), and ended with early morning classes Monday and Tuesday, before work (of course, you are tired, you have to work, but there’s only a little more to endure). I hope the organizers will keep the schedule the same next year.
I believe the seminar demonstrated a high level of self-discipline on the part of the practitioners and no unnecessary strictness on the part of the organizers. That made the participants feel good, and so created a working atmosphere without any nervousness. And the most disciplining influence was that of Seki sensei, who was always on the mat half an hour before the practice.
These are my first impressions. Once again, I’d like to thank Marina Karpova and all the organizers for a wonderful seminar!
Nemytova Alla, 2 Kyu
Moscow Aikiclub (Ryusuikan Dojo), November 24th, 2005